Ten Yard Fight -- NFC East Up For Grabs

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Redskins fans are reeling from an incredibly frenetic week of action. Time to take some stock.

1. I began this week with an impassioned plea for the Washington Redskins to pass on a potentially flawed free agent. As the week comes to a close, I find myself getting rather cozy with the idea that the Philadelphia Eagles are simply guilty of crying wolf Aaron Hernandez. Whether Redskins fans wanted the deal done or not, today we are all genuinely excited about the prospects of suiting up an elite, playmaking athlete with a ton to prove to the world. It is rather difficult to complain about being in this situation...so I won't.

2. The signing of Ryan Clark gets us halfway to the Champ Bailey/Ryan Clark safety tandem that I called for a couple weeks ago. Two aging veterans on one-year contracts is what I asked for, with the intended purpose being to provide some leadership in the wake of London Fletcher's departure, to help in the development of Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo (among others) and to benefit on gamedays from the wealth of knowledge and experience these two have by the bucket load. This would also buy us a year (hopefully) to try and hold off drafting a safety. There will likely be a safety at the top of the second round that could come in here and play, but you know I want that offensive tackle. In addition to allowing us to go OL in the second round, having Bailey and Clark in the secondary for one year buys some time for Thomas or Rambo to possibly turn into players that we can depend on for years to come. If you draft a rookie safety in the second round this year, one of those guys is automatically pushed down the ladder, increasing the chances they become "lost." The Geriatric Ward we would have in the back of our defense would not make us necessarily "feared," but it would likely be an upgrade (again, for one little, bitty season) from what we have had. In a worst-case scenario where one of these guys gets hurt, we would just be trotting out one of our young guys (or Brandon Meriweather) anyway.

3. As is our custom, we as a fanbase have overdone the DeSean Jackson thing. It is a huge addition to our offense, with an impact that will be undeniable right out of the gate. Still, in order for the quarterback to get the ball to his receivers, he needs at least a few seconds. This is why I consider it so important to bring in that seciond round right tackle prospect. Unless Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden look at the board and feel that there is not a single player available that can come in and be the frontrunner to win the right tackle job, I am pulling the trigger. I will stop short of calling the DeSean Jackson signing a half-measure, but I do believe that the best way to make it pay off is by investing in the offensive line, specifically at the right tackle position.

4. How about my other big ask for the offseason? I BEGGED for at least three new starting offensive linemen. What an interesting way to pacify me: Shawn Lauvao counts as one. Kory Lichtensteiger, by virtue of his move to center, technically counts as the second (the two sweetest words in the English language: de-fault!), and you know they will be giving Josh LeRibeus and maybe Adam Gettis huge chances to win the other guard spot. I mean, if they take that offensive tackle in the second round, we will have replaced 80% of our line. Merry Christmas to us all!

5. Speaking of "default"...poor Sean. Yesterday, he titled an article using this word to refer to the way we would win the NFC East ("by default"). I think I know what he meant, and I think I understand his process, but I think even he would agree he would have changed that headline if he had to do it over. I think our belief is that the NFC East is very much "up for grabs." It is a huge development for a team coming off a 3-13 season to be mentioned as "in the running" to win its division. I suppose it doesn't paint the most flattering picture of the NFC East, but we know better than most how tough it can be inside our division even when the rest of the league turns their noses up.

6. If you look at the movement of talent away from teams in our division, and the manner in which at least some of it shifted to us, it is hard to argue that we have not turned the corner from the 0-6 team we were last season in the division. DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher--despite their injuries--were major components of Dallas' front seven. Ware leaves the division and Hatcher stays in it--with us. DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick were major components of Philadelphia's offense (I know they chose to move forward with Nick Foles, but they needed both him and Vick last year). Vick leaves the division and Jackson stays in it--with us. It would be difficult to underestimate the impact of losing both Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph for the New York Giants on defense, and Hakeem Nicks on offense. The Giants seem to always have defensive linemen ready to go, but Justin Tucks don't grow on trees. Games still must be played, and intangibles must still be assumed, but the Washington Redskins have built a strong case for themselves inside the division this offseason. It really is anyone's division to win. (Don't think for a second I'm not extremely worried about Darren Sproles in Philly...because I AM.)

7. Which is a nice segue to....Who do you think the receiving back will be for the Redskins this season? Is he on our team right now? (I suppose he better be!) Jay Gruden clearly enjoyed utilizing Giovani Bernard last season. For my money, you know I like Roy Helu. There is also the possibility that Chris Thompson, the second-year back out of Florida State, could be that guy. Until I see more of what Thompson can do, I am inclined to lean toward Helu. I feel like with Helu in the backfield, the defense still has to worry about a sizable player that can take a handoff and run over some people. You can play the odds a bit more with Thompson in the game. Maybe Alfred Morris makes some progress in this department. Maybe with additional targets, he shows us all that he is perfectly suited to shine more in a dual role.

8. Staying with the receiving game, let me just make a quick and unexpected case for Hank the Tank (you know me, I try to stay unbiased...hahaha). One assumes that as of today, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts comprise our starting three wide receivers (me being the "one").  Aldrick Robinson, Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson will find themselves fighting for playing time and, potentially, roster spots. We know that Jay Gruden favors a strong group of five wide receivers, based on his history and what has been reported since his hiring. That doesn't mean we won't keep more than five, but history suggests five will make up the main rotation. Let me start off by stating the obvious: Santana Moss is the old man of the group. What makes him hard to get rid of at this point though is that he is a natural mentor for a certain newly signed free agent. Moss is a classy veteran that would be in all the same meetings, practice groups, etc. as DeSean. I would find a reason to keep him around for little more than that, even though it might be overdoing the whole "DeSean needs mentoring" thing. I love both Aldrick and Hank. I do...BUT...all of a sudden we are looking a rather small wide receiver corps. Hankerson is the only guy with any size in that group, making him a very juicy option in the red zone. I have not given up on Hank yet, perhaps to the point of stubbornness. (Perhaps?) I am not convinced it will come down to Aldrick versus Leonard, but if it did, I would be hard-pressed to get rid of the only size we have there.

9. By signing Colt McCoy, we have reignited the "Trade Kirk Cousins" debate--the same debate that was seriously dampened by the lack of any team willing to pay our price for him. Listen, McCoy was a HUGE winner at a major program in college. Aside from getting blown up by James Harrison in one of the more violent concussion-inducing hits in recent memory, his professional career has been largely unmemorable. He is a backup in every sense of the word--something we don't believe about Captain Kirk. Now, nobody is suggesting that we would rather see Cousins over a healthy Griffin--that would be insane. Nobody would EVER suggest such a thing with McCoy. If the Redskins are successful in trading Cousins--FOR A STARTING CALIBER DRAFT PICK--McCoy and possibly a late-round rookie QB become our backup candidates. I said it before and I will say it again: we have done FAR worse. (I can't imagine why Cousins would agree to it, but if I was in charge, I would be trying to extend the Spartan for a year or two to keep control over him. Also, if I was in charge, one day a week would be reserved for DVR-watching--networks would take the day off from programming. Keeping up with my DVR is like a second job.)

10. A lot has gone down for us in the last week, and in the last month. We have gone through multiple multi-day stretches that have felt like months all by themselves. And the draft is still a month away. And training camp is about three months away. Congratulations Mr. Goodell. You have successfully managed to take a 365-day calendar and make it feel like 765 days of NFL action. Brace yourselves and pace yourselves people. At this rate, we will all age about seven years before we see a down of actual football played. Use the Draft Profiles to slow down your heart rate, y'all.

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